EXPIRED: 12/12/11 – Bert Schneider, 78, was a a student at Cornell University, but he was expelled for being rebellious. So with that kind of attitude – and filmmaking in his blood (his father was Abraham Schneider, president of Columbia Pictures), he was destined to go to Hollywood.
He began his showbiz career at Screen Gems, partnering with director Bob Rafelson to develop The Monkees. The TV show – unlike the follow-up Monkees movie, Head – was a huge success and allowed Schneider to finance the making of the counter-culture classic Easy Rider in 1969. It famously starred Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Head-screenwriter Jack Nicholson as a trio of motorcycle riding hippies going against America’s grain.
Schneider, with a flair for unconventional filmmaking, is credited with paving the way for other New Hollywood directors like George Lucas, Paul Mazursky and Sydney Pollack.
Follow-ups included Five Easy Pieces (1970), The Last Picture Show (1971) and The King of Marvin Gardens (1972). In 1975, Schneider won an Oscar for the documentary Hearts and Minds (1974).